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Semi-automated crate loading solution

01 March 2020

The installation of an ergonomically designed semi-automated packing station for loading crates has resulted in International fruit marketing and distribution company, Worldwide Fruit, boosting its capacity to load flow wrapped apples into crates while maintaining product integrity. 

The solution has resulted in more efficient end-of-line loading process and increased efficiency. 

Worldwide Fruit sources apples, pears, avocados and stone fruit from the UK, New Zealand, South America, South Africa, USA and Europe. 

Last year, to help it increase capacity and strengthen the overall flow of the process by eliminating bottlenecks, the company replaced its crate loading soft touch roller belt system for a Brillopak semi-automated PakStation which provide greater throughput with fewer line stoppages, increasing OEE on the packing line. 

Speed, efficiency and eliminating damage, plus the ability to increase capacity within factory space limitations, were among the key catalysts for adopting Brillopak’s semi-automated PakStation, as Sam Roberts, senior production manager at Worldwide Fruid explains: “The machines are compact and easily fit into our factory layout.”

Originally, the company had employed a roundtable system before moving to a roller belt, which was fitted at the end-of-line onto a flow-wrap machine. Although the product exits from the sealing system efficiently, the packing operators were not running to the same capacity. The real problem was that operators were in control of packing speeds, not the line, which caused productivity issues when it came to flow. “Packing operatives could not keep up with the pace and it became quite a bottleneck. This led to a build-up of product, more stoppages and potential fruit quality issues,” said Roberts. 

Today, the PakStation feeds product to staff at an ideal height and orientation, enabling the team to load at a suitable pace. Because of this, workforce health and injury risks as well as physical and mental stress levels are reduced. A useful feature has been the installation of an additional guard sensor, making it safe if an operator needs to go into the machine for maintenance. 

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